Vlad Stanilescu

Introducing our new and improved Help & Support experience

Over the past few months, we've received an incredible amount of feedback on Business Catalyst's Help & Support workflows. I'd like to thank everyone who provided this feedback, and walk you through the upcoming improvements you'll see as of our next system update.

These changes are targeting only the partner community, so the white-labeling will not be affected, as the client workflows remain the same.

In-product help resources

We've undertaken a thorough review of our help content and starting with the next system update, will begin to bring the most valuable resources right inside the product - when and where it's relevent.

You will be able to access all this great content by simply hovering or clicking on "Help & Support" from inside your Admin Console. You're also able to search for help content and access the new support page from the same area.

Here's a sneak peak:

A new Help & Support page

We've completely redesigned our Help & Support page to give you easier access to the resources you need. Simplicity and usability were our key goals, and from the new page you'll be able to:

  • Search and browse help documentation, tutorials and community help resources
  • Browse the community forums
  • Chat directly with the support team
  • Submit a new support ticket
  • View system status updates
  • Access other popular resources

Here's a preview of the new and improved page:

Better live chat and support ticketing tools

Based on your feedback, we've made the decision to switch back to the live chat tool we were previously using. We're also moving out support ticketing system over to a leading tool in the customer service space: Zendesk.

Submitting new tickets will be quicker and easier than ever, with no additional login required. You'll even be able to record and upload a screencast right from the "submit a ticket " screen.

Updating, replying to and following up on a ticket will be also be easy and intuive - all you have to do is reply on the email you receive when the case was created, or to one of our agent's replies.


Documentation improvement project

In addition to all these, we are now planning to work on improving our documentation as well, and also engaging the Partner community in this project. We would appreciate if you could give us some valuable feedback on what you think is important to work on, and also let us know if you would like to contribute to our efforts, by filling this short survey.

 

We hope you find the new Help & Support experience to be a big improvement and step in the right drection. You'll see the changes in line with our upcoming system update, currently scheduled for early-December. Keep an eye on the BC Blog for release notes and a final release date next week.

Over the coming months, we'll continue to gather your valuable feedback and utilize it to continue enhancing the support experience for all Partners.

Thanks,
Vlad.



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Support coverage for the holiday season

We hope that you will have a nice holiday season, with no worries and no problems. However, if you do run into issues please be aware that our Support team is not running at full capacity, so there might be some delays in our answers. 

We will be available on chat and to reply to tickets on all working days in between Christmas and New Year's Eve, but our staff is limited, so there might be slight delays in our replies.

During bank/public holidays our team will only be monitoring emergencies. 

In the hope that you will not need us this season, we wish you Merry Christmas, and hope to see you back in 2012 with new energy and business ideas. 

The BC Team 

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Jackson Palmer | BC

6 Online Business Strategy Showcases Part 5 - Generate New Leads

Last month, we looked at Automating Customer Service using BC. This month we're looking at how to "Generate New Leads" as a strategy for your Online Business. Check out what we had to say last October, as part of our 6 Online Business Strategies.

Help Your Clients Qualify and Generate New Leads

Do your clients have a strategy or a process for generating new leads and passing them on to their sales team? Do they sell a highly customized or intangible product that can't simply be given a price and sold online?

Business Owners today are using web forms and quotes to automate the process of qualifying and generating leads. They're using workflows to alert the sales team via email and SMS, cutting the time the customer is waiting for their enquiry to be followed-up.

Here are some great examples of lead generation and capture on BC:

SimpleFlame - lead generation from a rebranded partner...


For our partners, you can optimize your own lead generation process by following this great example created by SimpleFlame. By placing effective calls to action at the base of the page they are funneling visitors to their contact page. The contact page uses a customized web form to capture additional information, including company details, cell phone number and most importantly, the type of job that the prospect is interested in engaging Simpleflame to quote and complete.

Every time this form is submitted, a workflow is triggered, alerting the sales team via email and SMS. If you or your client have large sales teams, you can use Customer Service Ticketing to delegate the enquiries to the team member with the least load. For more information on setting up CST, visit the:


House Of Bamboo - capturing leads using web forms...


Created by Click2It, this Online Business uses two highly customized contact forms to capture and qualify leads. You'll notice that the contact form collects information regarding the current project the prospect is working on. This is important for businesses who offer services that can't be sold online because the quoting process is too complex. Collecting this additional information gives the sales team a better understanding of the lead, allowing them to generate quotes and take a more personalized approach.

House of Bamboo also has a seperate business contact form, helping seperate sales leads from business or career enquiries.

Selling the 'Generate New Leads' Strategy To Your Clients

A familiar theme exists in the two sites we've looked at - they both effectively direct prospects to customized web forms, generating and qualifying new leads. These forms capture additional information about the lead which greatly helps the sales team in approaching them.

Sell this as a strategy to your clients where you can help them generate new leads by wisely placing calls to action, implementing customized contact forms and triggering workflows which automatically notify the sales team via emails and text messages.

In the next post, we'll be looking at how BC Partners have built sites that Build Customer Loyalty for their Clients. 


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In the last post, we looked at some great examples of Blogs and Email Marketing on BC. This time, we're looking at how to "Automate Your Customer Service" as a strategy for your Online Business. Check out what we had to say last October, as part of our 6 Online Business Strategies.

Help Your Clients Serve Their Customers

Does your client find themselves on the phone all day? Do their customers complain that they can't be contacted after hours?

Today, Business Owners are using self-help portals to automate their customer service allowing them to work on the business, not the phones. They're using web-forms to qualify enquiries before directing them to the right person to answer them, and they're directing customers to FAQs, how-to's and do-it-yourself articles. All this cuts down the live help load.

Here are some great examples of automated customer service on BC:

Spitfire - great service from a rebranded partner...


For our rebranding partners, you can turn your free partner site into a self-help portal for your own clients by following this fantastic example created by MDX Interactive. Once an existing customer logs in, they are provided with links to a knowledge base of self-help tutorials, video training, forums and the unbranded Online Business Wiki. Setting up a secure support zone for your client's customers will help ease the demand for time-consuming Live Help.

Bogan Bingo - automating booking enquiries...


Created by Renaissance Funk, this fun Online Business is managing booking enquiries using web forms. You'll notice that the form collects details such as Venue, Date and No. of Guests, alerting the business owner of the enquiry and allowing them to quote a price based on these fields. You can set up a similar system up for your client using Web Forms, triggering a Workflow that notifies them when a new enquiry is made.

Food Matters - serving customers with an FAQ...


Always Interactive has helped Food Matters answer customer queries by building an extensive FAQ that provides all the relevent information in one place. For example, clicking "Can I call to place an order over the phone?" provides customers with a direct phone number they can call. FAQs are a great way of organizing the most important information for your client's customers in one, easy to navigate page.

Selling the 'Automate Your Customer Service' Strategy To Your Clients

Although employing different tactics, there's a familiar theme present in all three sites we've looked at - they all succeed providing customers with the information they need in an automated and efficient manner. This strategy is about taking the stress and distraction away from the business owner by streamlining the customer service process and allowing them to focus on running their business

Help your clients automate their customer service by implementing features such as FAQ's, Enquiry Forms and building Self-Help Portals for their customers.

In the next post, we'll be looking at how BC Partners have built sites that Generate New Leads for their Clients. 

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Brett Welch | BC

2 Cream Cheese Customer Service Lessons

Friday is "Coffee and Bagel" day for me. A white toasted bagel with cream cheese to be exact. See, I figure after a working week it's nice to treat myself to an easy, simple and delicious breakfast, right?

I really look forward to that bagel and its creamy cream cheesy cheese goodness. It's sorta like a mini-christmas day on friday - it makes me get up a little earlier and walk to work with a spring in my step.

And so it was that I bounced down the hill and into my coffee shop (they have the best bagels in North Sydney), rolled up to the counter and stopped. I ordered.

The lady took my order cheerily, then turned to her colleague. "Hey, are we still out of cream cheese?"

My mind entered a state of panic. No cream cheese was almost a deal breaker for me. So I waited anxiously for an answer.

"Yeah we are. Would you like butter instead?" She happily asks me.

My brain snapped back: "No-i-don't-want-butter-butter-sucks-on-a-bagel-you-silly-person-i-want-cream-cheese!!!!" But those words didn't make it to my mouth.

"Ummm..." I replied. I'm sure I looked pretty upset. "Ummmmmmm...." I looked down and resigned myself to butter on my bagel. "Ok."

The counter lady continued to serve me, taking my change and passing my order along. I was distracted, wistfully thinking about how much better my day would be with some cream cheese in it.

Just as I took my change, she says "Hey, we're sorry about the cream cheese. Next time have a drink on us, ok?" She passes me a free drink voucher. Now while  this may be pretty standard, I was surprised and thanked her.

I was suddenly a lot happier. I still missed my cream cheese, and my Bagel wasn't quite as good. But a simple gesture like that turned me from a disgruntled customer into a happy one. And more importantly, I will go back there next friday, in the hope that they have cream cheese once more.

Two important things to note:
  1. She made the decision to give me that voucher herself.
  2. The gesture didn't give me cream cheese, but it did improve my mood.
Which makes me wonder: in your business are you:
  1. Giving your front-line team the power to make decisions that make a difference?
  2. Giving your customers something extra when you disappoint them?
And finally, the most important lesson: A token gesture and saying "sorry" really does get you a long way.

Sometimes, human beings are incredibly simple animals. When we're upset or angry, we're usually in our basest, simplest state. And that means that it only takes simple gestures to start making it just that little bit better.
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Brett Welch | BC

Keeping it Real, Part II: Get "Real Life" Market Understanding.

Every marketer understands their target market, but how intimately you understand them varies. Getting involved with customer support teaches you a lot about your target market, and lets you intimately understand their needs, wants and motivations.

You'll learn not only what they want to use your product or service for, but why they want to use it. You'll learn the language they use to describe it and how they see it. There is no better way to hold a mirror up to your company than to talk to your customers about their experiences with your product.

Take Carol, for example. Carol is a customer of ours that I've helped on a few occasions with technical support. And she's taught me a lot about our market - while some of it isn't news, it's confirmation that our approach is correct. For example, here's a few things I know because of my support interactions with her:
  • She needs support. Free technical support and the ability to talk to us during our support Q&A webinars is a big reason that she loves us.
  • She loves to learn. She's constantly exploring and learning more about functions in the system she could use, and she really appreciates our business advice (not just tech advice). This has influenced our blog's direction and our technical documentation's direction to include a little background, too.
  • She doesn't know what a CMS (Content Management System) is. She just works on her website. This isn't a surprise and we don't use that acronym ourselves, but it's a good example of how you can glean knowledge of how customers talk and understand your product.
These traits are common to a large chunk of our market, and there are many more. We've got several customers that we have interacted with over time, and they've become archetypes of our target market.

So after all your effort doing support and customer service, let's say you've gained a deeper understanding of your product and your target market. Now we can put that to work in our marketing messages.

Creating a More Authentic Message.

After my experience with customer support, I've definitely gained a great deal of understanding about our product and our customers, and I would expect that most marketers would find the same thing. Doing support at GoodBarry, I can say that I have:
  • Better understanding about which features our customers use the most
  • Greater appreciation of the areas of the system are easiest to use and which are harder.
  • Knowledge of the strengths of our products, according to the customer
  • Better understanding of what motivates and excites customers
Now your product or support may be different to GoodBarry's, but I would bet that similar benefits would be gained anywhere.

To put it simply: I can see the product in it's true form, as it really is - not in an academic light. This then feeds directly into our marketing messages, making them far more authentic for our audience.

So how can you create a more authentic message?  By applying those lessons you've learned from your time with your customers. By using that authentic experience and true understanding you gain from dealing with customers after they've purchased, you can create marketing messages that:
  • Set the right expectations - just as my laptop technician did.
  • Communicate the most attractive benefits of the product - as Carol has shown us
  • Better motivate your prospects to buy - by using the language the customer uses and the benefits they find most attractive in real-life usage.
And most importantly, these marketing messages are true and authentic - so they don't disappoint.

Word of Mouth Marketing That Sticks and Stays.

The best thing about authentic messages: customers repeat them. If they don't agree with your message they'll make up their own, which may or may not be favorable to you. But if they do agree with you, they'll just repeat your message. It's easier that way!

Real marketing messages that aren't mere puffery and positioning but true representations of the benefits of your product spread smoothly and are accepted easily. Authentic marketing messages are a big part in successful word of mouth marketing.

Some Caveats and a Final Word

Maybe you're involved in customer service every day, and if so that's great. My primary role is as a marketer, but I'm also involved in support and training at GoodBarry. And I'm confident that this has helped improve our product and hone our messages.

Of course, not everyone can do support or customer service. Technical support in some organizations requires some serious knowledge that marketers might not have. But what you can do is sit next to them, listen to their customer calls or read their support tickets. Maybe you can pull the support team into your next marketing meeting and see what they think of your ideas.

Traditionally, marketers have worked with sales and legal departments, but the customer service team is too often ignored. These guys are at the forefront of dealing with your happiest and unhappiest customers, they know your product inside out and can tell you in five minutes the best and worst things about your service.

My key point is that as marketers, you should engage and understand the customer service side of your business. Talk to them, sit next to them, try doing their job for a day or two.

Trust me, it's worth it.
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Brett Welch | BC

The Anti-Sherlock Rule

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary detective was often tasked with solving baffling mysteries. Armed with nothing but his wits and some sketchy clues Sherlock Holmes would face up to the challenge. He needed patience, cunning and an open mind. Lateral thinking was a must. What a hero.

Sherlock, however, does not belong in any discussion around web design or online businesses -  and so the Anti-Sherlock rule comes about. The Anti Sherlock rule simply requires that you accept two things as true:

1. Websites are NOT mysteries. Your Online Business and Online Shop should be easily understood by the visitor. You know who your audience is, and you can pretty much guess what they'd be looking for on your site. So give it to them without fuss - serve their most common needs as quickly as possible.

2. Your customers are NOT Sherlock Holmes. While I'm sure a bunch of them would leave Sherlock in their Mensa sweatshirt wearing dust, they're too busy to apply that intellect to work out your website. Don't make them jump through hoops.

This may seem obvious. But why, dear god WHY, do so many businesses have mysterious web sites and expect you to work out what to do next?

If it's a game, I don't want to play.

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